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Port Coquitlam residents quiet on temporary shelter
A temporary shelter operating in a Port Coquitlam church on Kingsway Avenue this month saw as many as two dozen homeless people on some nights without generating any community complaints.
Rob Thiessen, managing director of Hope for Freedom Society, said the temporary Bridge Shelter will now move to Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship Church in Coquitlam after a successful run at the Kingsway campus of Northside Foursquare Church.
“Our average attendance is slowly picking up — we had a high of 25 [people] last week,” said Thiessen, who said he hasn’t heard any complaints from residents during the entire month of January.
He speculates that the closure of a food and clothing bank at the church kept the neighbourhood quiet because there are very few people around the church during the day.
Only a free dental clinic and HFFS’s outreach office are open and visits are by appointment only.
The silence on the part of the community comes as a relief after the homeless shelter was nearly scuttled because of neighbourhood concerns. Last fall, when the city held a public meeting for a temporary use permit and good neighbours agreement for the shelter, several people turned out and many were opposed because of concerns about security.
However, the city’s mayor says there’s no way of knowing if people are still opposed to the program. They may still turn out to next year’s meeting for extending the shelter’s temporary use permit for the 2014/’15 winter season, Greg Moore said. But neither he nor city staff have heard any complaints in January, he confirmed, and no one showed up to most of the meetings held by the city to handle concerns, except for two on the first night.
The lack of issues could be explained by the fact that the program has reverted to the old bus-in, bus-out system that doesn’t accept drop-ins.
“That’s the success we’ve had in the previous five years,” Moore noted, adding that when the permanent shelter opens at 3030 Gordon in Coquitlam, there will be programming to support homeless people.
Meanwhile, planning is underway when the shelter moves to St. Andrew’s United Church in Port Moody March 1, following the stint at Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship. St. Andrews is calling for volunteers to help set up mats, serve breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening, as well as to distribute bag lunches and put away mats in the morning.
Volunteer shifts are between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the evening shift and 5:45 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. for the morning shift.
To find out more, a volunteer orientation will be held at the church at 2318 St. Johns St., PoMo, on Saturday, Feb. 8 between 10 and 11 a.m.
Donations of food, supplies and money are also being accepted. Call 604-939-5513 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to help out.